Cabinet Decisions 15 December

Written on . Posted in Community, Democracy, Leader, Meetings, Residents, Your community, Your council

In a step that Councillors hope will help local retailers, the Cabinet of Epping Forest District Council has agreed that there will be no increase in pay and display car park prices next year. Instead, any increased spending on car parks will be met from a further £60,000 of savings identified within the Council`s current budget. The Cabinet also reaffirmed its intention not to increase the District`s Council Tax precept by more than 2.5 per cent.

Watch the webcastwebcast of cabinet meeting on 15 December 2008
(opens in a new window)

Epping Forest District Council already provides some of the lowest pay and display car parking fees in Essex and the surrounding area, with the cheapest ticket costing 10 pence. Some free parking is also available in each of the district`s principle towns on Saturdays. All of the district`s pay and display car parks are also free on Saturdays in the run up to Christmas.

Councillor Richard Bassett, Civil Engineering and Maintenance Portfolio Holder confirmed that the freeze on charges would not mean any cuts in other services. He said: Council staff have managed to find savings in the budget and we will still continue with our improvement plans. Bakers Lane Car Park in Epping will benefit from investment of £120,000 including new lighting, CCTV, drainage, resurfacing and lining. Everyone knows that the Country is facing difficult economic times in the New Year. I hope that these measures will go some way towards helping our businesses by encouraging people to shop locally.

In another move to address the problems of people finding themselves victims of the economic downturn, the Cabinet recommended a bid to the Full Council of £20,000 for a scheme to help people afford rental payments in the private sector. Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor David Stallan hopes the extra money will go to the Rental Loan Scheme from next April and will help to deal with any potential increase in people forced to register with the Council as homeless after home-repossessions.

In other matters discussed by the Cabinet held on 15 December, Councillor Mary Sartin gained approval for the Council to take on powers to remove untaxed cars from the district`s roads. National statistics suggest that 80 per cent of untaxed cars also lack insurance and many are also found to be unroadworthy. The presence of such vehicles is also linked to criminal activity and it is hoped that their removal will lead to a reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour.

Council Pays Tribute to Local Hero

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Meetings, Older people, Young people, Your community, Your council

Tributes to Georgie Sparks at the Epping memorial

Councillors from Epping Forest District Council stood in silence at the beginning of the Council meeting on Tuesday 16 December 2008 in tribute to Royal Marine Georgie Sparks who was killed in action in Afghanistan.

 

Tributes at the Epping memeorial

Personal tributes were paid by Chairman of Council John Knapman and Council Leader Diana Collins. The Council offered its condolences to his family and friends including his sister Katie.

Watch the webcastwebcast of Council meeting on Tuesday 16 December 2008 (opens in a new window)

The following article first appeared on the website www.everythingeppingforest.co.uk (opens in a new window)

Epping came to a standstill on Saturday morning as the town remembered Royal Marine Georgie Sparks who was killed in action in Afghanistan. Hundreds of people packed into St John’s Church to pay tribute to the serviceman, on what would have been his 20th birthday.

A guard of honour stood outside as Royal Marine colleagues carried his coffin, draped in a Union flag, into the church. Georgie died along with Marine Tony Evans after both were on foot patrol with J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines. They were north-west of Lashkar Gah, in Helmand province, when they moved on to the roof of a compound. There was an attack by insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades and both were badly wounded.

Colleagues and war veterans joined members of Georgie’s family and local dignitaries – including Epping mayor Ben Murphy and Epping Forest District Council chairman John Knapman for his funeral service which included tributes from Georgie’s sister, Katie. She described how proud she was to have a brother like Georgie – who was known as Sparky to his friends – and also paid tribute to the four Marines who just hours earlier had also been killed in Afghanistan.

Mr Murphy told the everythingeppingforest website: “Today was obviously a highly emotional day for our town, the Royal Marine Corps, and for a family who have had to say goodbye to their brave son on his 20th birthday, just a week before Christmas.” He added: “Family, friends and comrades paid tribute to a remarkable, dedicated young man who valued his family enormously. This young man chose coming home to see his family every weekend he could over going out on the town with his fellow Marines.”

Epping High Street was closed to traffic as shoppers stood in silence. Several men removed their hats as a mark of respect as Georgie’s coffin, flanked by Royal Marines, made its way to the church. Mr Murphy said: “Today, Epping was shown the hard reality this country faces from fighting in a war against terrorism and injustice on behalf of those who are unable to defend themselves. We are all so proud of this young man who wasn’t afraid to stand up and be counted and who sadly lost his life doing so. May he rest in peace eternal.”

Georgie and colleague Tony Evans both received immediate medical attention after they were injured and were moved to a secure location before being put on a helicopter to be transferred back to Camp Bastion. However both died during the flight.

Georgie joined the Royal Marines in June 2006 and passed out from training in July 2007, joining 42 Commando a few days later. During his time at 42 Commando he qualified as a sniper. His parents, Wayne and Toni, and sister, Katie, said: “We have lost our best friend as well as our son. We are so very proud of Georgie – he always wanted to be a Royal Marine. Georgie loved the outdoors – fishing, shooting, paintballing – and was very close to his family.

We miss him so much.” Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Stickland Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said: “Marine Georgie Sparks was a quiet, understated professional. He lost his life fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with his comrades, covering their actions with his expert sniper skills.”

Call for Sites Provisional List Published

Written on . Posted in Community, Local plan / planning our future, Older people, Planning, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your environment

Around 200 suggestions from local residents, landowners and developers have been received by Epping Forest District Council since it asked people to nominate potential sites for all types of future development including housing.

Residents can see the list below.

Call for sites provisional list pdf (349 KB)

The list will eventually help the Council formulate plans for accommodating around 3,500 new homes allocated by the Government to the district under the East of England Plan.

Information from the `Call for Sites` will inform the preparation of the Local Development Framework (LDF), a series of documents setting out future planning policies for the district. As a result of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the LDF is the new form of plan making in England and Wales and replaces the Local Plan. In Epping Forest district the priority for the LDF is to provide sufficient land allocations to meet the housing, employment and other targets in the East of England Plan and to meet the requirements for Gypsy and Traveller provision given by the Single Issue Review of the East of England Plan.

Sites identified and evaluated through the `Call for Sites` exercise will be particularly relevant to some of the documents that will make up the LDF. These include the Core Strategy and a Land Allocations Development Plan Document. The `Call for Sites` exercise assists the process of finding the most suitable and deliverable sites for the LDF.

The `Call for Sites` is the first step for the Council in identifying potential land for new development. While making the provisional list public, the Council stresses that being on the list does not indicate support by Councillors, or that the land will ultimately be found suitable for development purposes.

Some residents asked us if they could see the provisional list so we have made it available on the website. However, it is still incomplete and unevaluated. Some of the suggestions will not be viable. Others will need serious consideration but that process is not likely to take place for many months. We still need to add some of our own land holdings into the mix as well as other potential sites, says Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder, Councillor Anne Grigg.

Councillor Grigg added: The official deadline for suggestions was 18 July but we are continuing to get occasional additions.

No action will be taken on considering whether the land that has been submitted is suitable for development in the long term, until preparation of the Core Strategy has been commenced. Any land that is promoted for development from the `Call for Sites` must be in accordance with the strategy of development distribution across the district. Public consultation on the Core Strategy including consideration of the development options available for the district is likely to occur during Summer 2009.

EFYC Funding

Written on . Posted in Community, Democracy, Leader, Meetings, Young people, Your community, Your council

At the meeting on 10 November 2008, the Cabinet received a report on funding for the Epping Forest Youth Council (EFYC) for 2009 to 2010. The Cabinet requested the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to receive a presentation from the Youth Council giving an update on developing the Youth Council Programme.

Epping Forest Youth Councillors Claire Gilbert, Holly Whitbread, Alex Martin and Gabrielle Compton attended Overview and Scrutiny on 11 December 2008. Claire Gilbert gave an excellent overview of what the Youth Councillors have been doing this year from a running a district-wide piece of young persons` consultation to organising the recent Big Youth Debate at Woolston Manor.

Epping Forest Youth Councillor Claire Gilbert said: We were able to categorise our main priorities, as 17 individual young people working in sub-groups and have developed four of our five priority areas: Activities, Transport, Environment and Safety issues. In the second year of their term of office, they see firm action through these working groups replacing monthly training needs as the driving force of the Epping Forest Youth Council.

Youth Councillors have been formally contacted through the Council`s website by a number of young people and organisations wishing to use the Youth Council as a consultation sounding board and seek Members` support and involvement. This has included different departments from within the Council – Planning Services, the Safer Communities Partnership, Environmental Services and Community and Cultural Services, as well as external organisations including West Essex PCT, Epping Forest College and the Children and Young People`s Strategic Partnership.

Youth Councillors visited the Langston Road depot

During the summer Youth Councillors toured the district visiting a number of sites including: the proposed new site of the Loughton Youth Project next to Loughton Library, Loughton Police Station, Langston Road depot site and Ongar Sports Centre. The tour gave the Members a far greater geographic perspective of the district and enabled them to meet and discuss issues with a local Acting Police Inspector, a senior Connexions worker, a Recycling Officer and a Sports Centre Manager.

Epping Forest Youth Councillor Claire Gilbert said: We also see more face-to-face work in the community as a vital component of our second year success. Some of our Members have worked very hard to raise the expectations of their School Council and hold them to task in promoting young people`s initiatives. In this second year, we want to build on the good work of local schools` partnerships by holding Youth Councillor drop-in surgeries at lunchtimes and after school and getting more young people engaged in local issues and the opportunities that are out there.

Their last training session was organised by Community Development Officer Gill Wallis which gave them an introduction to the Chairmen of the four Young People`s Action Groups: Essex Road Safety, Essex Drugs and Alcohol Service, Essex Youth Offending Team and West Essex PCT. They feel that as an elected group, not only must they voice the views of young people to these sorts of service providers but also have a role to play in voicing the services that are being provided back to young people – especially those provided by Epping Forest District Council.

    To date, Epping Forest Youth Council have been successful in securing external funding to the sum of £11,132. This has been made up as follows:

  • £5,500 from the West Essex Area Forum
  • £2,200 from the Epping Forest Children and Young People`s Strategic Partnership
  • £1,832 from the Youth Opportunity and Youth Capital Fund
  • £1,000 from the Grange Farm Trust
  • £300 from the Loughton Youth Project
  • £300 from the Jack Petchey Foundation

Epping Forest Youth Councillor Claire Gilbert said: Without funding from Epping Forest District Council of a similar sum of approximately £12,000 to support our training, meeting, transport and general revenue costs we would not have been able to run this year. On behalf of all our Members I would like to thank Epping Forest District Council for this support and formally request that the same level of support, in the sum of £12,000 be made available for the Youth Council in the next financial year.

Epping Forest Youth Council has successfully developed over the last nine months as a valuable resource to Epping Forest District Council. The 17 Youth Councillors, who are aged between 13 and 17 years, have undertaken a wide range of training and development to support them in their roles and have each taken specific responsibility for a portfolio or area of business.

HOPE Comes to Residents

Written on . Posted in Community, Health, Loughton, Older people, Our activities, Residents, Sports, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community

The residents of Epping Forest District Council`s Sheltered Housing Scheme in Parsonage Court in Loughton played host to the residents of Jubilee Court in Waltham Abbey for a competition with a Nintendo Wii and the Wii sports game.

Residents too part in a Wii sport bowling competition

Chairman John Knapman bowling a spareThe competition was suggested after Tottenham Hotspur Football Club donated a Wii to Parsonage Court as part of the HOPE (Helping Older People Exercise) initiative to encourage older residents of the community to become more fit and active.

 

Natalie Saunders of the HOPE organisation shows a resident how to play

Chairman of Council Councillor John Knapman presented a Wii to Jubilee Court before the competition started. He said: I hope this gift to Jubilee Court will help the residents in their campaign to get healthier.

Natalie Saunders of the HOPE organisation also took part in the activities scoring a strike in the Wii bowling.

Bernard Babbage celebrates a strike

Jubilee Court were the eventual winners with a victorious 99 points and Parsonage Court only having practised once the previous day came in close second with 93 points.

The winning team from Jubilee Court

A WOW of a Gift

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Democracy, Older people, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council

Councillor John Knapman, Chairman of Council visited Vitalise – Jubilee Lodge in Chigwell for the official opening of the new `Wow` room. Vitalise – Jubilee Lodge is one of the charities to benefit from his fundraising during his year in office. At Vitalise they believe that everyone deserves a break and they offer respite options with real freedom and choice to disabled people and carers alike. They provide an alternative to traditional respite care by offering breaks in a relaxed, holiday environment but with nursing care and personal support available. The new interactive room is specially equipped with a large 46 LCD screen connected to a Nintendo Wii, which Councillor Knapman has donated from his charity fundraising. The Wii will be used by the centre`s visiting guests with physical disabilities.

Chairman John Knapman with guests at Jubilee Lodge

Councillor Knapman said: I am delighted to see the `Wow` room in use. This addition is a great asset to the facilities at Jubilee Lodge as the Wii is very versatile and can be used by guests of all ages and all abilities. I am really glad that my charity fundraising has been able to supply this additional facility to a very worthy local charity.

Centre Manager Steve Trump commented: There are quite a number of the games that can be played and enjoyed by people with limited mobility and after an initial reticence at using the new technology, the Wii with its widescreen TV has quickly become a favourite pastime of many of our guests.

He went on to say: With very little guidance and support required from the staff, racing and bowling games are proving a hit. There are now more opportunities for both guests and volunteers to interact with each other and to use the enhanced computer room facilities at Jubilee Lodge.

Landscape Officer Invited to House of Commons

Written on . Posted in Community, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your environment

Landscape Officer Chris Neilan

Epping Forest District Council`s Landscape Officer and Arboriculturist Chris Neilan was invited to a special reception at the House of Commons hosted by Tree Council Vice President Brian Donohoe MP at which Baroness Andrews, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Communities and Local Government, officially launched National Tree Week.

Chris Neilan said: I was invited because CAVAT (Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees), the tree value method I have developed, is crucial to current major national initiatives to help protect trees. Over the previous few months it has featured in articles in many national newspapers, including a photograph on the front page of the Times and a feature in The Observer and is currently reported on the front of the current Tree Guardian, the Tree Council’s newsletter to their tree wardens.

CAVAT is specifically reviewed in the Trees and Design Action Group Green Paper `No Trees, No Future – Trees in the Urban Realm `, also launched for consultation at the event. The paper includes two sets of proposed guidelines. One is for Large Species Trees in New Development – including maximising opportunities to plant large species landscape trees in new development and overcoming issues such as perceived threats to foundations. The other is for Assessing the Value of Urban Trees – dealing with the potential approaches to assessing the financial value of trees in developments, including their value to the community. CAVAT is reviewed under this heading and its adoption by the insurance, loss adjusting, Local Authority and private arboricultural sectors (in connection with setting evidence levels in subsidence cases) praised as an excellent example of joint working.

Chris Neilan concluded: I was delighted to attend this special event at the House of Commons and am very happy that my tree valuation method is now helping to improve the management of trees and to save trees that might otherwise be lost, well beyond the bounds of Epping Forest District.

The Big Youth Debate – Young People Speak Out!

Written on . Posted in Community, Democracy, Meetings, Residents, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

Host BBC radio and TV presenter Dave Monk

Around 150 young people packed into Woolston Hall, Chigwell on Wednesday 19 November 2008 evening for the Big Youth Debate.

Moderating the debate organised by Epping Forest Youth Council, was BBC radio and TV presenter Dave Monk. Eleanor Laing MP, Eric Pickles MP, Divisional Police Commander Tim Stokes and Councillor Di Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council were among the high-powered panel fielding questions from the audience.

Watch the webcast The Big Youth Debate webcast
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No punches were pulled as the district`s young people put their questions. Subjects ranged from crime and safety to transport and teenage pregnancy.

Young people question the Panel Members

Introducing the debate, Youth Councillors Holly Whitbread and Nat Rogers presented the first analysis of a district wide survey of opinions of young people. Lack of activities, inadequate public transport and personal safety were key issues coming through.

The lively debate was enjoyed by allAlex Martin with Chairman John Knapman

Epping Forest District Youth Council is less than a year old and the Big Debate was its most ambitious event so far. More than 1,000 young people also responded to the Big Debate survey earlier in the year. Members of the Youth Council have been given open door access to the many of the most influential people in the district. Also at the Big Debate was Aidan Thomas Chief Executive of the West Essex Primary Care Trust and Derek Macnab, Deputy Chief Executive of Epping Forest District Council.

A special hoodie was awarded to all who asked a question

An ipod was awarded to the person who in the view of Epping Forest District Council Chairman, Councillor John Knapman asked the best question. To resounding applause he chose Alex Martin who sparked a major discussion with her question about under-age drinking..

Chairman Opens New Playground

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Chigwell, Community, Grants, Out and about, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

Ribbon cutting at the new Limes Farm Playground

Some of the district`s youngest residents put the latest play equipment to the test when they joined Councillor John Knapman, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council at Limes Farm on Tuesday 18 November 2008.

Pictured right – from left to right are Councillor John Knapman, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council with Lee, Mark, Rianna and Lily Jo open the new Limes Farm Playground

Proving he is no slouch when it comes to climbing frames, Councillor Knapman entered into the spirit of the occasion by testing some of the equipment for himself. Also celebrating the official opening of the new playground, funded with a grant of £58,000 from the National Lottery, was Chigwell Parish Council Chairperson, Councillor Christine Buttling.

The refurbished bridge forms the centre-piece of the new Limes Farm Playground

Chairman John Knapman with residents by the climbing wallThe new play equipment is part of the ongoing community investment by Epping Forest District Council and our partners at Limes Farm, said District Council Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder, Councillor Heather Harding. Everything except the play-bridge is brand new. There are new swings and swivels of different kinds, a climbing wall, slides and rocking horses. I hope local children will enjoy many happy days of play.

Pictured right – District Council Chairman, Councillor John Knapman shows he still has his playground skills with Limes Farm residents Lily Jo, Lee and Angel, District Council Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder, Heather Harding and Chigwell Parish Council Chairperson, Councillor Christine Buttling

Councillor Harding added: The project has been well received by local residents who were consulted on what equipment they thought the playground should have. This is exactly what the Big Lottery Funding is aimed at – enhancing the opportunities for local children to enjoy free play activities in an exciting and stimulating environment.

Limes Farm residents enjoying the new facilities

Epping Forest District Council was recently awarded a total of £243,000 from the Big Lottery Fund Children`s Play Programme to provide and improve play opportunities in the District. Following an audit of play facilities, three areas were selected to benefit from playground refurbishment schemes; Limes Farm in Chigwell, Nazeing and Abridge. The Limes Farm children`s playground was the first to be completed.

Lee, Mark, Rianna, Lily Jo and Angel were not put off by the rain as they played on the new equipment supervised by their mums and dads. Councillor Knapman said: The weather was pretty bad but no-one seemed to mind. It was a very enjoyable morning.

New Lease of Life for Empty Homes

Written on . Posted in Community, Housing, Housing repairs, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council

Epping Forest District Council has made a commitment to work with owners and local residents to return private empty homes to use and last year launched an exciting project to offer Government grant funding for the renovation of homes that have been empty for more than six months.

The PLACE project (Private Lease Agreements Converting Empties) is being run in partnership with six other Local Authorities and Registered Social Landlords (RSL) across Essex and Hertfordshire and offers high-level grant funding for private homes that require renovation and have been empty for more than six months. In return, the property is leased by a local RSL for three years and rented out to those waiting to be allocated a property.

There are now four properties that are at approval stage for works to commence and a further nine that are considering the scheme. There are potentially 13 long-term empty properties across Essex and Hertfordshire that will be returned to use and assist with local housing solutions.

Empty homes can be a burden on owners and a cause of concern for local residents, so this project offers a unique and exciting opportunity to turn these wasted properties into much-needed homes. If you own an empty home and would like to find out more about the scheme, or if you would like to report an empty home in your area, please contact Harlow Council on 01279 446396.